Fascinating music

Singers from the region will participate in national music competitions on television

Two national singing competitions, two TV stations, two different days – two separate spotlights shining on two Cedar Rapids-area residents.

Haley Slaton, 23, living in Swisher but soon moving to Cedar Rapids, will be among the “American Idol” hopefuls whose taped auditions will air at 7 p.m. Sunday, March 20 on ABC-TV.

The following night, Alisabeth Von Presley, 35, of Cedar Rapids, will perform live from Hollywood on “American Song Contest,” which begins at 7 p.m. on NBC-TV.

‘American Idol’ has launched music careers since Kelly Clarkson won the title in 2002. Maddie Poppe of Clarksville, northwest of Waterloo, won over voters in 2018 to win the title.

The new “American Song Contest” is based on “Eurovision Song Contest”, the hugely popular 65-year-old tradition of the European Broadcasting Union which attracts 200 million viewers worldwide every year. The eight-week US version will feature an artist or act from each state, five US territories and Washington, D.C. performing a new original song during the qualifying rounds, in hopes of advancing to the semi-finals, then the grand finale for Best Original Song.

Viewer votes will be counted in both competitions.


What: “American Idol”, featuring Swisher’s Haley Slaton

When: 7:00 p.m. Sunday, March 20, 2022


Details: abc.com/shows/american-idol

What: “American Song Contest”, with Alisabeth Von Presley of Cedar Rapids

When: 7:00 p.m. Monday, March 21, 2022


Details: nbc.com/nbc/video/snoop-dogg-and-kelly-clarkson-host-nbcs-american-song-contest/994117895

‘American Idol’

With COVID-19 protocols still in place, the “Idol” hopefuls began their journey with virtual auditions. Zoom Iowa auditions for producers took place in August, and those who passed several more rounds were invited to audition in front of celebrity judges Lionel Richie, Luke Bryan and Katy Perry in October in Austin, Texas.

Swisher’s Haley Slaton will audition for the “American Idol” singing competition, which airs Sunday at 7 p.m. on ABC-TV. (“American Idol”)

“American Idol” loves a good story, and Slaton already has a fairy tale written on it.

Not only did she travel to Austin with her “greatest cheerleader” — her mother, Swisher’s Sarah Gorman — but Slaton also met her husband, contestant Jordan Myles, at the auditions. The couple tied the knot in December and viewers are expected to catch her audition in an upcoming episode.

“We got married pretty quickly,” she noted. “We just knew. We started talking to each other right from the start, and it ended up being a daily thing. I was already pregnant, and he became a father, and I couldn’t thank him enough for that. We’re very much in love, we’re very happy to have met, and I feel like another reason I was on the show was to meet him. It was a great experience – meeting someone I could finally spend the rest of my life with.

Myles moved here from Louisiana and baby boy Jaelyn will be 2 months old on Sunday. They plan to move to Cedar Rapids in May.

Being an “Idol” contestant had been Slaton’s dream “for a very long time,” encouraged by her late mother and grandmother, Alice Fitzpatrick de Marion, who died two weeks before the audition.

Slaton said she didn’t really fit a genre niche and enjoyed singing country, pop and soul covers.

“I sing anything,” she says. “I grew up with country, I even grew up with gospel music. I grew up in church. I’ve been a singer since I was 3 years old. Just being able to show my voice to the world – it was the most important thing for me.

And though the hearing in Texas was nerve-wracking, she said the three judges allayed her fears.

“I was definitely very nervous, because being pregnant on the show, I obviously didn’t have a lot of wind,” she said. “I was very nervous about not being able to hold a note or that something was going to happen, but once in front of the judges they made me feel really at home. They made me feel like they were only human too, and we’re all human, so I went up there and did my best.

“American Song Contest”

Von Presley is a familiar face on the Corridor art scene, whether he’s performing in theater productions, taking pictures, performing in concert or pouring coffee and showcasing local talent at Stillwater Coffee in Hiawatha.

Alisabeth Von Presley of Cedar Rapids will perform an “original female anthem” at the launch of “American Song Contest” at 7 p.m. Monday on NBC-TV. (NBC)

Although she enjoys her side activities, she said, “Music has always been at the forefront of what I want to do and who I want to be. Music wasn’t always the only option financially. … But music has always been what ignites my soul.

She participated in the Hollywood tours of “American Idol” in season 12, which aired in 2013. And as a fan of “Eurovision Song Contest”, when she heard rumors of an American version, she jumped on the opportunity to audition for a new competition.

“‘Eurovision’ being a mix of visuals, music, original music and costumes, I thought to myself, ‘I have to be a part of it.’ So I submitted and here we are today, honored to represent Iowa,” she said.

Her odyssey began last year, and she’s now in Hollywood, preparing to perform the song she wrote for the show.

“It’s all live,” she said of the episodes, which begin Monday night, with hosts Kelly Clarkson and Snoop Dogg. “So America is living it at the same time as we are playing it. …

“You’ll see our personal story videos and then a really amazing show which is ‘American Song Contest.’ to the fact that we perform our own original music.

She spent a few months rearranging and rewriting her song, “really fine-tuning the lyrics and chord progressions that we wanted to use. It’s been a really cool experience to be able to work with different people on something like this.

Her local bandmates won’t be with her, but she will have backup musicians and she will play the keytar, a keyboard carried like a guitar.

“We’re making keytar cool again in 2022,” she said with a laugh. “I was born and raised playing the piano, and I love to dance. The keyboard isn’t an option when I want to swing my hips, so the keytar I can just wear around my neck, and I can always doing choreography. It’s the best of both worlds.”

A colorful pop rocker known for her body positivity messages, she said her competition song is “definitely a girl power anthem.” It’s pop, rock, inspirational, motivational – the kind of song you listen to when you want to get motivated for something.

She also wants to shake up the country’s perception of Iowa.

“I look forward to representing Iowa in a way that (viewers) don’t expect,” she said. “It’s fun to think of a pink-haired pop-rocker representing the Corn State. This juxtaposition is the most appropriate metaphor for my life.

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